'The Last of Us' creator says he used Linda Ronstadt's 'Long, Long Time' because it's an ode to 'middle-age love'
Warning: Spoilers ahead for "The Last of Us" season one, episode three.
Creator Craig Mazin explained why he chose to use Linda Ronstadt's song "Long, Long Time."
Episode three details an unexpected romance between apocalypse survivors, Bill and Frank.
A song can make or break a moment on television.
In the case of episode three of HBO's "The Last of Us" — creator and writer Craig Mazin got it just right.
In the episode, viewers were introduced to Bill (Nick Offerman), a middle-aged doomsday planner who had guarded himself in a Massachusetts town following the outbreak of the cordyceps pandemic.
Despite his initial reservations, Bill let Frank (Murray Bartlett) into his complex, and the two went on to enjoy a 20-year romance, growing old together before eventually committing suicide together following Frank's battle with cancer.
Their romance began when Frank began playing an uptempo rendition of Linda Ronstadt's song "Long, Long Time" on the piano in Bill's home. Bill then took over and played a more somber rendition before the pair kissed for the first time.
Since the episode aired Sunday, the song has soared in popularity on Spotify, with a 4,900% increase in streams.
Speaking to IndieWire on Monday, Mazin explained how and why he chose Linda Ronstadt's 1970 hit for the moment.
"I had the thought that this would happen, that there was a song that would be played, and that we would be surprised by who was good at it and who was bad at it," he said.
"I remember saying to Neil [Druckmann, cocreator], 'I'm not sure what the song is, I just know that it has to be this incredibly sad song about yearning for love, and never getting love, and just making your peace with the fact that you will always be alone. But it can't be on the nose. And it can't be a song that we all know.'"
Mazin said he searched for "hours and hours" for the right song, before turning to SiriusXM host Seth Rudetsky for advice. Rudetsky suggested "Long, Long Time."
"I described what I needed and within 30 seconds, it was [incoming text noise] '"Long, Long Time" by Linda Ronstadt,'" Mazin said. "I kinda remembered that song. I played it and was like, 'Oh, my. There it is.'"
"The intention was to show the arc of commitment," he added. "I'm in my 26th year of marriage, and middle-age love is a thing. And it's a different thing than love in your 20s and new love. There's something that gets kicked off by commitment over time."
"It was important for me to show that the romance, however long it lasted, it didn't last. And then it's arguing. And then it's bargaining. And then it's realizing what the other person does for you," Mazin continued. "And then it's fear, and pulling these characters through the stages of life as I've been experiencing them and I've seen my wife's parents' experience and other friends' experience. The whole idea was to hit the highlights of moments in your life where love means something different."
The show creator added: "In the end, Neil said something really smart: 'Even if a character doesn't make it in our show, in this case, these guys had a happier ending than they did in the game.'"
Episode four of "The Last of Us" airs on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday.
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